Tuesday 6 December 2016

Adams names Sinn Féin figures in email to Garda chief on murder

Published 29/11/2016 | 02:30

Austin Stack (left) and brother Oliver speak to media outside Leinster House about the shooting of their father, chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison Brian Stack on March 25, 1983. Photo: Frank McGrath
Austin Stack (left) and brother Oliver speak to media outside Leinster House about the shooting of their father, chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison Brian Stack on March 25, 1983. Photo: Frank McGrath

Gerry Adams has named a number of senior Sinn Féin figures suspected of the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack in an email sent to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

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Three of those named by the Sinn Féin President are well-known politicians, while a fourth man is a suspected former IRA boss, the Irish Independent can reveal.

In the email to Ms O'Sullivan, Mr Adams claims he was supplied the names by the victim's son, Austin Stack, and that was passing them on "in order to remove any uncertainty".

However, Mr Adams is facing serious questions after Mr Stack last night insisted he never provided names to the Sinn Féin President.

The email was sent three days before the General Election - and has now been passed on to detectives investigating the brutal killing.

The three politicians are household names and are currently serving. The fourth man is suspected of having held a very senior role in the IRA, and is currently facing other charges that are unrelated to IRA membership.

Brian Stack. Photo: PA
Brian Stack. Photo: PA

The decision by Mr Adams to name party colleagues in connection with a serious crime is highly unusual. It is understood gardaí will interview a number of those included.

Austin Stack, who is the deputy governor at Portlaoise Prison, gave a fresh statement to gardaí on Wednesday.

He told the Irish Independent last night that by naming senior Sinn Féin figures, Mr Adams and his party have "very serious questions to answer in relation to a live murder inquiry".

He said that in any other organisation, the individuals named by Mr Adams would have been suspended pending the investigation's outcome.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams denies any further knowledge. Photo: Collins
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams denies any further knowledge. Photo: Collins

Mr Stack met Mr Adams prior to the General Election - but insists at no point did he supply any names.

In the email, sent on February 23, Mr Adams says that in "recent days elements of the media and other politicians claim that I am withholding information relevant to the case."

"I have no information," he adds. "He (Austin Stack) told me that he had been given these names by Garda and journalistic sources," Mr Adams wrote.

He added: "Austin asked me if I would ask these individuals if they would meet with him to ascertain if they had any information that might assist the family.

"I am sending these names to you in order to remove any uncertainty about this.

"Is mise, Gerry Adams TD."

Following a series of queries, Mr Adams released a statement to the Irish Independent.

"I responded extensively to this issue when it was raised during the election campaign," the Louth TD said.

"I expressed my sympathy to the Stack family - I did my utmost to assist them, and I said that the killing was wrong.

"That remains my position," he added.

Brian Stack, who was the chief prison officer at Portlaoise, was shot in the back of the neck by the IRA in Dublin in 1983.

He died from brain injuries 18 months later.

In 2013, the IRA admitted to the murder during a meeting with the Stack family at an undisclosed location close to the border.

The meeting was arranged by Mr Adams.

The controversy resurfaced during the election campaign after Austin Stack claimed to have been given credible information that two senior members of Sinn Féin were involved in the murder.

The victim's widow, Sheila Stack, has called on Mr Adams to come clean with the truth.

During Sinn Féin's final press conference before polling day, Mr Adams claimed to have spoken to two individuals whose names he said were given to him by Austin Stack.

At that time, Mr Stack denied he gave the names to Mr Adams - and stands over this position.

Irish Independent

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